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The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), finalised by the UK and EU in late December 2020 and in force since 1 January 2021, includes a set of review dates and transitional or grace periods. These include a general provision in Article 776 of the TCA for review of implementation of the entire Agreement five years after it comes into force, and then every five years after this. The first such review will be due in 2026. A table in section 2 of this briefing sets out all the relevant review and transitional provisions in the agreement.

What happens at each review?

Although some commentaries have presented the 2026 review as an opportunity for the UK and EU to renegotiate the TCA, EU officials have stressed that this does not mean a revision of the treaty, rather a review of how it is being implemented.  There are however other TCA provisions which specify particular provisions that should be reviewed as part of the 2026 general review, including trade in services and cooperation on law enforcement.  

There are also other review clauses in the TCA providing for separate reviews of specific provisions. These include provisions providing for a separate review of the trade heading in Part Two of the Agreement, which could take place from 2025 onwards if either the UK or EU request such a review. This also provides more detail of the scope of a trade review and how this could lead to discussion of proposed treaty amendments (Article 411).  Part Three of the agreement on law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters can also be reviewed separately and earlier than the 2026 general review if the UK and EU agree to do so (Article 691).

What are the transitional provisions?

The TCA also includes several transitional provisions, some of which will require renegotiation or renewal of elements of the agreement. The review provided for in Article 776 could coincide with the end of transitional periods in energy cooperation and fisheries. The TCA provisions on energy cooperation will expire on 30 June 2026, unless the UK and EU jointly decide to renew them. On the same date, transitional provisions on access to fishing waters will come to an end. Access to fishing waters will then be subject to annual negotiation.

Other reviews and transitional periods cover more specific provisions, including those relating to rules of origin, trade in wine, aviation, social security coordination and UK participation in EU programmes. Some transitional periods have already elapsed, including one giving the UK a derogation on rules requiring the deletion of Passenger Name Record data. Concerns about the imminent implementation of changes to rules of origin related to the assembly of electric vehicles, as provided for under TCA transitional provisions, led to the UK and EU agreeing to amend the relevant provisions at the end of 2023.  

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